On New Year’s Day 1959, Cuban President Fulgencio Batista resigns and flees to the Dominican Republic, clearing the way for Fidel Castro to seize power in February. Cuba would become the first Communist state in the West.
In another first, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev tours parts of the United States and meets with President Dwight Eisenhower at Camp David.
It was announced in Jerusalem that the Government Statistical Office reported that the population of Israel had reached the 2,022,500 mark. Of this number, 1,801,806 are Jews.
The purpose and message of United Israel World Union continued to gain popularity and widespread approval both here and abroad, attracting many leading professionals in various fields.
A number of noted surgeons, authors and other distinguished leaders attended a January 18 meeting of UIWU held at the Dr. M. J. McDonald Reception Studio adjacent to the Union’s headquarters at 507 Fifth Avenue. Among those present were the famous physicians Dr. Harry Cohen and Dr. Sholom Shakin, both active in numerous humanitarian endeavors and brotherhood activities. Present also, was author Shlomo Dov London, executive director of Keren Or. All joined in hailing the universal brotherhood program of UIWU and called for greater support to the movement’s worldwide activities.
The meeting opened with an invocation by Falasha Rabbi Hailu Moshe Paris, the spiritual head of the Congregation Beth B’nai Israel located at 204 Lenox Avenue, New York. Rabbi Paris had spent a year studying in a Jerusalem Yeshiva, arriving in the Holy Land aboard the same Israeli ship as UIWU’s officer Avraham Fuhrman in the summer of 1957.
Born in Ethiopia, Rabbi Paris himself is a remarkable story. He became a close and lifelong friend of David Horowitz, supporting the mission and work of United Israel World Union for many years. He also served as a member of UIWU’s Board of Directors. His amazing story and contribution to UIWU will be featured in a future article.
On April 19, a treaty of friendship between Israel and Liberia was signed in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Joining other African states such as Ghana and Nigeria, they sought the opportunity to acquire the advanced technologies that the State of Israel had to offer. They viewed the Jewish State as their solution to the problem of securing modern techniques in agriculture, science, industry and medicine without pawning their future to the departing colonial powers.
The Arab states in Africa; Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and the UAR, whose influence kept Israel out of the Bandung Conference, moved to block the new friendship. They would fail to do so.
During the 16th Annual Meeting of UIWU on April 26, the national board unanimously approved a new United Israel World Union emblem. The new insignia holds special significance because of its unique design and the little-known story behind it.
Five years earlier, noted artist and sculptor, Dr. Rene Shapshak and his wife Eugenie, moved from Johannesburg, South Africa into the famous Chelsea Hotel on 7th Avenue located in downtown Manhattan. Born and educated in Paris, Shapshak was an alumnus of the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris that produced such giants as Claude Monet and Pierre Renoir.
Dr. Shapshak had become a world-renowned artist and sculptor, bringing his artistic and cultural contributions to many countries. His art is represented in Buckingham Palace, in the Rothschilde, Schiff and Schonegevel Collections in England and Athens, Greece and in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. He did sculptures of Mahatma Ghandi and John Cecil Rhodes of Great Britain. His Rhodes sculpture is in the Rhodes Museum at Bishops Stotford, England. Among his sculptures in New York City are those of Cardinal Francis Spellman, Dr. Leo B. Mayer and Playwright Arthur Miller.
In 1956, Dr. Shapshak had the privilege of sculpting a bronze bust of former President Harry S. Truman. The sculpture was placed in the Hall of Fame at the Ben Yehuda National Museum in Jerusalem, Israel. It was unveiled in Israel on Truman’s 73rd birthday.
Now, about that new UIWU emblem; Dr. Rene Shapshak was a close friend of David Horowitz and an active member of the United Israel organization. It was Dr. Shapshak who personally designed the new insignia. Brilliantly conceived, the Seal itself represents a dynamic activating Wheel with a spinning Star of David in which the Earth revolves and on which is the Levitical escutcheon with the Ten Commandments. It honors YHVH as the true Savior as indicated in the ancient Hebrew script YHVH Hu Go’alenu. On the periphery of the spinning wheel are the symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The special seal crafted by internationally renowned Dr. Rene Shapshak remains today our official logo appearing on all organizational documents and stationery.
In the summer of ’59, David Horowitz began a multi-part series entitled “An Answer to Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason.” Paine (1739-1809), author of Common Sense, The Rights of Man, The Crisis, and The Age of Reason, was an English and American political activist, philosopher and revolutionary. His Common Sense became the clarion call that led to the independence of the thirteen American colonies and freed the States from the tyranny of monarchial rule. The insightful series of expositions written by Horowitz received high praise from noted scholars, rabbis and scientists, including Professor Robert H. Pfeiffer of Harvard and Luxembourg’s Chief Rabbi Dr. Charles Lehrman.
From Tel Aviv came a strong endorsement and a call to action. Reuven Ben Arje-Lev, author of Halicha Ladror, a history of the great liberation movements and the Jewish spirit that inspired them, appealed to United Israel World Union for the creation of a Torah Center in Israel. Calling UIWU “the right association for such a center,” Ben Arje-Lev declared “United Israel has proven its faithfulness in this very task for many years. Its message is already being heard in many parts of the world, and those whom it brings to the Torah have become members of the Hebraic community.” Referring to such a center as the building of the Gate to Zion, he stated “Israel awaits UIWU in action!”
On October 7 in Baghdad, a group of Baath Party gunman try to assassinate, but only wound, Iraq’s ruler, General Abed al-Karim Qasim. One of the gunmen, 22-year-old Saddam Hussein, is forced into hiding.
October brought another surprising international story.
The heir to the ancient Irish Throne, H. R. H. Raymond Moulton Nathan Seaghan Donogh VI, of the House of O’Brien of Thomond, officially identified himself with Israel and Jewry on the strength of his family genealogy that traces his line to ancient Israel. Both Donogh VI, his wife Sarah Loreta Santos, as also their two children, Prince Turlogh and Princess Grania, consider themselves Israelites in the full sense of the term. They announced they would be seeking affiliation with an established Hebraic Temple of worship.
Having been informed of United Israel World Union, Donogh VI- himself a 33 degree Mason-immediately contacted UIWU and submitted official documents (duly notarized by the Lord Mayor of Dublin and Magistrate Benjamin Shaw, P. C., a past President of the United Hebrew Congregation of Dublin), testifying to the true genealogy of the Royal and Imperial House of O’Brien of Thomond. The principality of Thomond, (which includes Shannon) at the time had a population of over 90,000, most of which were Roman Catholic.
David Horowitz described the revelation as “living proof of Ireland’s Hebraic ancestry.”
In December, United Israel also played a major role in hosting an important and influential foreign guest. Outstanding leaders within the three branches of the American Jewish Rabbinical world joined hands with United Israel World Union in organizing a reception committee to greet the arrival of the noted Japanese convert to Judaism, Professor Abram Setsuzau Kotsuji, a descendant of Shinto priests. Professor Kotsuji, 60 years of age and acknowledged as Japan’s top Hebraist and author of a Hebrew grammar, was the former tutor of Emperor Hirohito’s brother, Prince Mikasa.
A special reception was held for Professor Kotsuji at the Plaza Hotel. Among those who honored the newcomer in Israel’s ranks were officials of UIWU, the Jewish Information Society, officials of the Histadruth Ivrit and some of New York’s outstanding Rabbis and business leaders.
In his address, Professor Kotsuji related the story of his early life as a boy in Japan and how he had turned to the Jewish peoples and Judaism. He told of later being interrogated by Nazi-inspired Japanese army officers for befriending the Jews, and in the face of death, his miraculous escape to safety through an incident he felt was the providential hand of God in his life.
Prior to his arrival in America, Professor Kotsuji was in Israel where he delivered several lectures and was officially brought into the Abrahamic covenant in Jerusalem in the presence of Rabbis and Israeli officials.
Fittingly, Dr. Rene Shapshak also designed the new emblem for the Institute of Hebrew Culture that Professor Kotsuji had established in Japan. Dr. Shapshak presented the new design to Mr. Kotsuji on behalf of UIWU before his return home.
In 1959, the United States added their last two states. The territories of Alaska and Hawaii were ratified as the 49th and 50th states respectively.
The decade of the 50s had drawn to a close. By its end, the world had largely recovered from World War II, but a new cold war between the rival super-powers of the Soviet Union and the United States had grown hot.
Like special chapters in a grand story, a new decade was about to be written.
Ralph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.
This post is the thirteenth in the series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.